Employees misuse of social media is one of the most common reason for Metis HR being asked to support an employer in formal disciplinary procedures was because of an allegation of employee misuse of social media. Any formal disciplinary process requires that an employer demonstrate that an employee knew what was expected of them. Without a workplace Social Media Policy it is very difficult to demonstrate that employees knew what an employer would deem employee misuse of social media.
Last year’s FAQ’s about employee misuse of social media included these three scenarios:
Q: An employee of mine has posted comments on Facebook that are potentially damaging to my business. Can I use the information in disciplinary hearings?
A: Yes, if you’ve obtained the information lawfully. Hacking into an employee’s Facebook account to obtain evidence would be unlawful. If you’ve got this content via your own Facebook account or, as is more usually the case, one of your employee’s accounts this would be lawful.
Q: One of my managers has seen comments posted on a social networking site which he believes are defamatory. What can we do about it?
A: A comment will likely be deemed defamatory if it is untrue and would undermine the reputation of the organisation in the eyes of “right thinking” members of society. Libellous comments are in a permanent form, identifying the company. The words used must be capable of damaging the company’s reputation.
If you believe the comments are defamatory, contact the networking site. Ask them to remove the material. Bringing a civil claim for damages against the person that made the statement and the social network for publishing the material is possible but can be expensive.
Q: Six months ago I dismissed a worker for swearing at a customer. She’s now posted derogatory comments about my business on a social networking site. What can I do about this?
A: E-mailing the networking site is the first step. Include a written report, demanding that the comment is removed immediately is essential. Writing to your former employee demanding she remove the content and informing her that if she doesn’t you will bring a claim against her for damages is your next step. Check the employee’s contract or any agreement she signed when she was dismissed. Does it impose post-termination conditions that her actions have breached? If it does, including in the letter notice of intention to sue for breach of contract.
Be prepared and introduce a workplace social media policy to guide your employees’ behaviour on social media.
Metis HR is a professional HR Consultancy based in the North West of England supporting clients across the country. We specialise in providing outsourced HR services to small and medium-sized businesses. Call us now on 01706 565 332 to discuss how we may help you.